Trump Says Sanctions Over Jamal Khashoggi Would Cost U.S. $110 Billion, But That Number Is Fake: Fact Check

Donald Trump's claim that Saudi Arabia is about to spend $110 billion on United States weapons does not hold up to scrutiny, fact checkers say.

Donald Trump, Saudi Arabia, Jamal Khashoggi, fact check
Alex Edelman / Getty Images

Donald Trump's claim that Saudi Arabia is about to spend $110 billion on United States weapons does not hold up to scrutiny, fact checkers say.

When asked on Thursday if he would consider imposing sanctions on Saudi Arabia over what intelligence agencies believe to be the brutal murder of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi by Saudi authorities, Trump — as the Inquisitr reported — appeared to say that the flow of cash into the United States from the Saudis was more important than Khashoggi’s life.

“I don’t like stopping massive amounts of money coming into our country,” Trump said, quoted by Vox.com. “I don’t like stopping an investment of $110 billion in the United States.”

Trump referred to what he said was a $110 billion order of military weapons and equipment by Saudi Arabia, saying that losing those sales “would not be acceptable to me,” and that if Saudi Arabia did not buy those weapons from the United States, they would turn to Russia or China and invest their $110 billion there, according to a Post account.

There is only one problem, according to experts at The Brookings Institute. Trump’s supposed $110 billion arms deal with Saudi Arabia is “fake news.”

“There is no $110 billion deal. Instead, there are a bunch of letters of interest or intent, but not contracts. Many are offers that the defense industry thinks the Saudis will be interested in someday,” wrote Brookings Foreign Policy and Middle East Senior Fellow Bruce Riedel. “What the Saudis and the administration did is put together a notional package of the Saudi wish list of possible deals and portray that as a deal. Even then the numbers don’t add up. It’s fake news.”

Donald Trump, Saudi Arabia, Jamal Khashoggi, fact check
Saudi Arabia’s ruler, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Dan Kitwood / Getty Images

A review of Defense Department data by the Washington Post “Fact Checker” also found no evidence of Trump’s $110 billion Saudi arms purchase claim. In fact, the paper’s investigation found that only $4 billion in military purchases by Saudi Arabia had been announced by the U.S. State Department since Trump visited the Saudi kingdom in 2017.

Previously, Congress had given preliminary approval to a $15 billion sale of a Terminal High Altitude Area Defense anti-ballistic missile system, known as THAAD, to Saudi Arabia, but the Saudis have not yet made that purchase, the Post reported.

According to a CNN report on Saturday, the supposed $110 billion in Saudi cash which Trump says he refuses to jeopardize over Khashoggi’s alleged murder was nothing more than “a memorandum of intent” to buy the weapons “over the next 10 years” — with no guarantee that any of the money will be spent by Saudi Arabia.